LAHORE – Noted journalist, writer and dramatist Asghar Butt passed away on Tuesday at his home in Lahore after a brief illness. He was 91.
He is survived by his widow Nisar Aziz Butt and two sons, Dr Ahmar Aziz Butt and Ashar Aziz Butt. He was brother-in-law of Editor-in-Chief The Nation Majid Nizami and former federal minister Sartaj Aziz.
Asghar started his career as an assistant director at Radio Pakistan in 1950 and later served the national broadcaster as director of its Karachi station. He also served as deputy editor editorial The Nation. He wrote essays for Pakistan Times, and later became Editor of the same newspaper. He was also a renowned playwright.
With an insatiable appetite for education and improvement, he read for a degree of law from University of the Punjab even after his retirement as joint secretary in the ministry of Culture and Tourism. Asghar Butt was laid to rest at the Miani Sahib graveyard in Lahore, on Tuesday. The Rasm-e-Qul will be held at his residence 35/B Mason Road, after Asar prayers tomorrow (Thursday).
His funeral prayers were attended by a large number of people from different walks of life, including former president of Pakistan Rafiq Tarar, Shahid Kardar, Justice (r) Sardar Mohammad Dogar, Sartaj Aziz, Majid Nizami, Dr Fazal-ud-Din, Sohail Fazal, Mian Arif, Shafqat Kakakhel, Kamal Aziz, Jamal Aziz, Sohrab Butt, Nazeer Butt, Arif Butt, Tariq Butt, Dr Shahid Amin, Dr Qambar, Col (r) Amjad Hussain Syed, Salim Bokhari, Azam Badar, Mujahid Hussain Syed, Saeed Aasi, Bilal Butt, Justice (r) Aaftab Farrukh, Siddiq Ulfarooq, Shoaib Bin Aziz, Dr MA Soofi, Ashgar Nadeem Syed, Prof Dr Rafiq Ahmed, Shujaat Hashmi, Absar Abdul Ali, Akram Chaudhary and Anwar Niazi.
Although he suffered a stroke seven years ago, his bravery and perseverance in the face of difficulty with his speech resulted in him publishing several novels and plays in recent years as well, which went on to receive critical acclaim. His column in The Nation was a depiction of prevailing socio-political events. During his services in ministry of culture, Asghar Butt did his best for the promotion of art and culture, and is remembered for having worked tirelessly to improve the state of the film industry in Pakistan.
His death has created a gap among Urdu writers. He was one of the leading playwrights of this age. He wrote one-act plays at a time when not even a single regular theatre had been established. He translated Ibsen’s play, Pillars of Society into Urdu for consumption by a larger audience. In his dramas he reflected the life of ordinary men in an extraordinary style, and believed that stage was the most appropriate place to examine any drama.
A collection of his four one-act plays were already published when some years ago he surprised the novel readers’ community by writing “Tooti Kahan Kamand”. This 684-page novel explores stories within a story like Alaf Laila, and will be remembered as the quintessentially beautifully penned last contribution of an outstanding writer to the genre of Urdu literature. May God rest his soul in peace.